Note: The following is part of a series of articles looking at the establishment of post offices and mail delivery in southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.)
The Bulloch Herald on Aug. 4, 1937 reported that the “Gulf Plane Puts Down Here on Air-Mail Flight.” It explained the trial plane making a preliminary flight landed in Statesboro that Monday.
The plane carrying the mail was owned by the Gulf Oil Company and was flown by Gulf's "Aviation Representative" Dick Fell, in a flight sponsored by the Eastern Air Mail Lines.
Georgia Postmasters decided to have a plane land at all suitable fields across the state. Therefore, Fell’s plane had stopped at Madison, Augusta, Macon, Cochran and McRae before reaching Statesboro.
Amongst those on hand were Statesboro Mayor J.L. Renfroe, Statesboro Postmaster George Groover, B.C. Chairman F.W. Hodges, and bank presidents S.W. Lewis,and C.P. Olliff.
Eastern Air Lines Division Traffic Manager R. D. Hager was there as well. Fell's job, it turns out, including landing at fields in Statesboro, Brunswick, and Folkston in order to pick up the remaining air mail bags.
These bags would then be flown to Savannah, where along with the Savannah air mail, they would be loaded onto a waiting Eastern Air Lines' "Mail Plane."
Special envelopes were made up, bearing a rubber-stamped picture of a cow, a hog and a hen, with the words "Statesboro, Georgia: Where Nature Smiles, We Lead in the Production of Cows, Hogs and Poultry."
The Bulloch Times-Statesboro News-Statesboro Eagle issue of Aug. 5, 1937 declared “The purpose of this trip is to make our people air-minded, (and) the need for it must be shown by patronizing this special flight.”
It added, in Atlanta “connections will be made with planes for east and west. A letter mailed from Statesboro on Monday will arrive in New York or Chicago the same day.”
On Aug. 12, 1937, the Bulloch Times-Statesboro News-Statesboro Eagle reported that “Almost Half Thousand Letters Moved from Local Post Office Monday.” It described what happened.
“Postmaster George Groover personally carrying the pouch in which reposed the 366 letters from Statesboro post-office and 40-odd from other nearby post-offices, (all) accompanied by Brooks Buie, a post-office clerk.”
In addition, “the mail consisted chiefly of regular mail on which the postage rate was 6 cents per letter, (and) a number were for special delivery. (The) extra postage for this service brought the total cost to 16 cents per letter.”
The Bulloch Herald issue of Aug. 13, 1937 informed its readers that “Large Crowd at Air Port Greets Air Mail Carrier.” Monday morning at 7:30 a crowd of nearly 1,000 people gathered at the Statesboro Air Port.”
They were awaiting “the Gulf plane which inaugurated Statesboro’s part of Georgia Air Mail Week. (The) Gulf plane appeared from the South, circled the airport one time, and put down with the ease of a bird alighting.”
After “Dick Fell, the pilot, stepped from the cabin of the plane (he) was greeted by G.T. Groover, Postmaster; F.T. Hodges, Chmn., County Board.; D.B. Buie, of the P.O.; and L. Coleman, editor, Bulloch Herald.”
“Mr. Buie delivered to Mr. Fell the mail bag containing more than 400 pieces of mail addressed to the four corners of the nation. Five minutes after putting down here, Mr. Fell (took off for) Atlanta.”
Once there, “Statesboro’s mail joined 12,000 other letters for dispatch to all parts of the U.S. The flight from Statesboro (is) part of a state-wide effort to secure for rural Georgia its first rural mail service with feeder lines.”
Finally, the Bulloch Herald's issue for May 18, 1938 heralded the "Local Air Mail Special to Fly to Atlanta, (and will take) off from the Statesboro Air Port at 8:30 (a.m.) tomorrow with Statesboro's first actual air mail flight."
Statesboro's Postmaster George T. Groover revealed "air mail pilot Lawrence B. Dobbs' (set) schedule will put down at Swainsboro at 9 o'clock."
Here, "either Lannie F. Simmons or C.P. Olliff of the Statesboro Aircraft Corporation, who will accompany him, will make a speech on National Air mail Week." Dobbs will pick-up Swainsboro's air-mail, and then depart.
They were to repeat this after they landed at Louisville at 9:45, where after speeches and getting Louisville's air mail, they will depart at 10 o'clock., and "put down in Atlanta at noon."
Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.